Dr. Mark Tremblay recently commented on a new study which, according to the Globe and Mail, “found that if a parent or other supervising adult was present [in a park], the child was much less likely to be moderately or vigorously active.”

From the article:

“I’ve experienced parents shrieking in horror as their kids starts to climb a local tree,” says the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario researcher, who observed the “Don’t swing so high!” comments above. “When the parent isn’t there, the child experiments. They’re seeking thrill and they’re learning how far they can go, and as they get stronger and more co-ordinated, they can do things better.”

He encourages parents to reflect on the activities and free play they enjoyed as children and to “allow your child to learn their physical capabilities and learn their limits.” Give them a little more room to manoeuvre, even if that means the odd scraped knee or elbow, he says.

In addition to being a factor in childhood obesity, “bubble-wrapping” also dooms kids to less physical activity as they mature, Dr. Tremblay says.

“So, with a world that encourages us to be sedentary, you’re coming in with fewer options available,” he says. “You can’t go rock climbing because you’re simply not strong enough, so that’s not an option. I fear for the future because of that.”

Countering the so-called nature-deficit disorder many kids face is another goal, Dr. Tremblay says.

“How can kids safely interact with trees and leaves and dirt and streams and so on in a way that captures their imagination, connects them with nature, keeps them moving, teaches them basic safety?”

Parents who sit on benches refereeing their children’s actions are also missing an opportunity not only to model healthy activity but to get a little exercise themselves.

“It’s not all parents. Some come over with a soccer ball and start a game, but in my experience, that’s a minority,” he says, adding that an even better idea may be for mom and dad to kick a ball or throw a Frisbee to one another while the kids are off doing their own thing.

To read the article in its entirety, click here.